The Kremlin was forced to deny that Vladimir Putin had any health problems after the Russian President went on a coughing fit and struggled to finish his sentence during a televised meeting about the coronavirus that has left the country's economy battered. Questions were also raised if Putin was suffering from Covid-19 as he looked restless.
In a version posted by his office, his coughing fit was later edited to not seem so acute. Questions have been raised about the Russian leader's health in recent weeks, with speculation rife that he might step down early next year owing to poor health. However, the Kremlin has been denying all such reports and has been claiming that Putin is perfectly all right.
How is Putin?
Putin was addressing his finance minister Anton Siluanov and other senior officials about coronavirus on Wednesday in a televised meeting when the coughing fit started. The 68-year-old looked uncomfortable from the beginning and struggled to complete the sentence.
"Excuse me," he said raising his hand to his mouth and started coughing as he discussed the 'acute financial problems' caused by Covid-19. The footage from the meeting was later edited so that Putin's coughing fit seemed less severe in a version posted by his office.
State news agency TASS, asked Kremlin about Putin's health and was told that he was "absolutely normal". The agency also reported that Putin later apologized and continued without pausing. "The president apologized and continued the meeting almost without pausing," the agency said.
In fact, in order to avoid answering further questions on his health, Kremlin later posted an edited version of the video wherein the worst of his coughing, including when he said 'excuse me' was missing.
Doubts on Putin's Health Continue
Radio Mayak, which aired an original stream, reported that "Putin's vocal cords gave in as he was setting his government to fight Covid-19." Lately, a lot of questions have been raised about Putin's health. The Russian president has often looked uncomfortable on television, which has even raised questions about his fitness and health conditions to continue as the country's premier.
Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports claiming that Putin could step down as early as January 2021 following rumors that he had Parkinson's disease. Kremlin even denied the president suffering from any kind of ailment.
Unlike world leaders such as Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, Putin is believed to have avoided contracting Covid-19 so far. However, despite Russia having two Covid-19 vaccines available, it is understood that Putin has not been injected with any, according to East2West News.
Putin's current term expires in 2024 but a constitutional amendment passed earlier this year makes him eligible for two more terms, meaning he could rule until 2036. Moreover, questions about his health are being raised at a time when Russian lawmakers are pressing for a legislation that would grant ex-presidents lifetime immunity from criminal prosecution.